Facebook's Aquila Drone Aims to Bring Internet Access to World's Remote Locations

Facebook is finally showing off enormous its solar-powered drone, which may someday be used as part of the company’s plan to deliver Internet to isolated communities.

The aircraft model, called Aquila (Latin for "eagle"), is ready for flight testing.

Aquila is as large as a Boeing 737 and has a carbon-fiber frame to keep its weight less than the average car, wrote Jay Parikh, Facebook's vice president of global engineering and infrastructure, in a blog post about the Aquila.

The idea is that the drone will fly over areas internet providers cannot reach and use laser technology, developed by Facebook, that will deliver data from up to 10 miles away to a ground target the size of a dime, Parikh explained. The drone is supposed to circle around remote regions for up to 90 days and can offer Internet connectivity from up to 60,000 to 90,000 feet.

Spokeswoman Sarah Sullivan said Facebook plans to begin flight testing of Aquila later this year, but she shared no further details as to exactly when or where these test will occur.

Facebook is not the only company working on technology to bring the Internet to areas with a lack of connectivity options. According to the Mercury News, Microsoft and Google have also experimented with drones and television airwaves to transmit Internet signals.

Facebook has made it clear they have no intention of becoming an Internet service provider. Parikh said the tech giant is not building Internet networks, but rather creating new technologies that can “become viable solutions for operators and other partners to deploy.”

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